As Rafael Betancourt learned the hard way this season, Father Time is undefeated. Arguably the best reliever in Rockies history, Betancourt entered the 2015 season as a 40-year-old attempting to return from Tommy John surgery. That he even made it back at all is a testament to his ability and work ethic -- nobody would have blamed him if he had chosen to retire instead of going through over a year of rigorous rehab -- but he just wasn't the same pitcher that we've all come to know and love in years past.
In 45 appearances that spanned 39⅓ innings, Betancourt posted an ugly 6.18 ERA. There were some positive signs for Betancourt, as he still struck out over a batter an inning and put up a serviceable walk rate -- though neither were as good as we saw from Betancourt in his heyday -- but ultimately he was plagued by diminished stuff and inconsistent command. Take a look at Betancourt's zone profile on fastballs this season and see if you can deduce what his biggest problem was:
Not pretty. As it turns out, when a pitcher throws more pitches right down the middle than anywhere else, he typically doesn't get the results he wants. Some pitchers might be able to get away with that because of their velocity, but Betancourt's average fastball was just 90.7 mph this season, not nearly enough to blow hitters away. Betancourt would ultimately be released on August 27 after putting up -0.6 rWAR on the year, ending his days as a Rockie and quite possibly his days as a Major League pitcher as well.
Please, don't let this season tarnish the way you remember Rafael Betancourt. No player wants to be remembered for the player he was at 40 years old when he could no longer do the things he used to be able to do. Instead, remember Betancourt for moments like this: